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Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report

56th Legislature, 1st General Session
Volume 5, Issue 45• Week of November 13, 2023

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K-12 Wins in Arizona: “Moms for Liberty” Lose Everywhere

In a litmus test for K-12 schools and a bellwether for 2024, Arizona voters once again voted resoundingly to support local public schools. Statewide, 78% of bonds and overrides passed, meaning K-12 students in those areas will benefit from additional local support to offset the legislature’s failure to fund our public schools adequately. 

As an added bonus, nearly 3/4 of “Moms for Liberty”-endorsed candidates were annihilated at the polls on Tuesday. Across the US, voters resoundingly rejected anti-public education candidates, making it clear that school vouchers, book bans, and hateful attacks on LGBTQ students are deeply unpopular. 

While it is inspiring to see voters express their continued, overwhelming support for public schools, we are incredibly disheartened to see the voting results of some local bond and override measures. K-12 funding increases were rejected in Blue Ridge, Deer Valley, Fountain Hills, Gila Bend, Gilbert, Liberty, Mesa, Snowflake, and Queen Creek. These students will suffer and go without desperately needed resources — in many cases due to the rise in well-funded, coordinated “no” campaigns that resorted to deceptive tactics to influence the outcome, including using illegal road signs, defaced “Vote Yes” signs, and rampant misinformation to manipulate voters. In other cases, these efforts backfired in a major way.

As SOSAZ Statewide Outreach Director Nicky Indicavitch told the press, "Arizona voters typically do come out and support public schools in these local elections. That trend held, and I think it is a signal from voters: they still love public schools and they're not going to budge on that…. Going into the election, we had seen some pretty dirty tactics from opposition in some of our communities. I thought there was a chance that might be successful but it was not largely. If you look at some of the districts where those tactics were deployed, [the bond and override] passed and I think they might have passed at higher rates because of some of that."

Public education is the backbone of our society, providing not only academics but also important social services to our children while fostering stable neighborhood connections. When campaigns use deception to erode that support, it jeopardizes the future of our children and the well-being of our communities. 

Arizona students are our future doctors and leaders — we don’t just owe them a world-class education, we owe it to ourselves. Supporting public education is not just a commitment to them; it’s an investment in the collective well-being and prosperity of our entire state.

The Deer Valley Unified School District’s bond and override failed: “It was a really hard pill to take. Our kids aren't being put first. Our teachers aren't being put first.”

Upcoming Events!

Team SOSAZ is excited to launch our Education Advocacy Series for November and December! Starting Sunday, Nov. 12th, join us weekly to gain skills and knowledge that will empower you to take action as we head into 2024 and the legislative session. 

Register here:

Sunday, Nov 12 at 3:00 pm – Speaking of Schools: How to Talk About AZ’s K12 Crisis – Register here!

Join SOSAZ & Opportunity Arizona for a special townhall with LD9 and LD13 lawmakers, Rep. Lorena Austin, Rep. Seth Blattman, and Rep. Jennifer Pawlik. 

We will discuss education, the economy, and voting rights. Register HERE– see you there!

Voucher Watch

Good News in Illinois! The Illinois legislature adjourned this week without re-upping its 2017 “Invest in Kids” tax credit voucher, making it the first state to fully roll back its failing voucher program. The program was siphoning $75 million a year from the state budget, and therefore public schools: “Tax credit scholarships create the illusion that taxpayers are not footing the voucher bill… taxpayers can either fill the gap by paying more, or accept cuts in services. Directly or indirectly, taxpayers pay the price for tax credit scholarships.” 

Arizona’s mirror program School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit vouchers drain over $250 million from our state budget each year – on top of the nearly $1 billion ESA vouchers are set to drain this school year. 

Voucher Pushers Swarm in Tennessee: Special interests like Americans for Prosperity and the American Federation for Children are investing massive amounts of money and energy into expanding Tennessee’s ESA voucher program. The program is currently limited to low- and mid-income students in specific counties and can only be used at accredited private schools. But, following the same playbook they used in Arizona, school privatizers are now pushing to expand the program far and wide. Americans for Prosperity, backed by the Kochs, has hired almost 100 part-time workers and is preparing a full-throttle digital campaign to sanitize vouchers and convince Tennessee lawmakers to vote against their constituents’ interests.

Meanwhile, public education advocates are ready to defend their state’s local community schools. The Tennessee Education Association is prepared to oppose any efforts to expand the voucher program. It called on the state to “fulfill their constitutional obligation to provide a system of public education for our children.”

"Taking taxpayer dollars to fund private school tuition statewide would divert much-needed resources from our already underfunded public schools and threaten the strength of our Tennessee communities. It is irresponsible and reckless to push a statewide voucher program that would jeopardize the foundation our state’s success is built upon…. What we do know from other states is that vouchers do not improve student outcomes, and they certainly do not empower parents. Private schools are free to turn away students they don’t want to educate, which are often students with disabilities and students of color.”

Around the Horne

Voucher Dept. Hiring Fiasco: In the latest in a long string of scandals in Supt. Tom Horne’s ESA voucher department, 12 News has revealed that the Arizona Department of Education’s (now former) investigator Eric Butler had a troubled history. Prior to being hired by the ADE in February, Butler was disciplined by the Mesa Police Department for “not being truthful” in two grand jury appearances. This pattern of deceit resulted in a two-week suspension and placed Butler on the Brady List, requiring prosecutors to disclose Butler’s disciplinary history if he is called to testify. When questioned if the Department had conducted background checks on Butler before he was hired, a spokesman for ADE admitted that they had not as they did not think it was necessary.

Mr. Horne Oversteps (Again): In yet another example of Supt. Horne overstepping his role, he hosted a press conference on Wednesday threatening to prevent students from participating in UNICEF and Amnesty International student clubs, calling them “antisemitic and un-American.” Horne sent a letter to local school districts demanding that the clubs be banned from their campuses despite federal law that prevents public schools from denying students equal access to clubs based on religion, politics, or contents of speech. 

It appears the primary purpose of Horne’s press conference was to rail against what he perceives as a “desperate cabal” of “leftist” groups “under the thumb of the UN.” Supt Horne even tried to claim that not banning the internationally recognized clubs would amount to aiding terrorism. Despite calling a press conference about the meeting, Horne didn’t appear to have all of the facts. In response to multiple clarifying questions from reporters, Supt. Horne claimed that he did not know the full information and could not comment. 

What Horne didn’t tell the press is that the situation was already resolved by the local principal, who met with student leaders from the school’s Jewish Student Union, UNICEF, and Amnesty International. In a letter to parents the day after the presentation, Hirsch denounced hate speech of any kind and also shared that “it is absolutely clear that these students had no intention of promoting any form [of] anti-semitism. Their primary focus was to shed light on the humanitarian crisis and discuss possible ways to address it.”

It is irresponsible and inappropriate for the Superintendent to make sweeping accusations about students and schools, using dog whistles to his base to direct further animosity toward embattled school districts. We’ve said it before and will continue repeating it: our schools deserve so much better.

Public School Proud!

Check out some incredible pictures and stories from across the state that make us #PublicSchoolProud!

Students from Old Vail Middle School, Andrada High School, and Mica Mountain High School competed in a Cybersecurity competition at Pima Community College. Students as young as 11 participated in the event – and were even interviewed for KGUN Tucson!

In Queen Creek, Jack Barnes Elementary School Running Club participated in their first-ever cross-country meet hosted by Jewell Barney Jr. High. They represented their school with honor and pride.

Congratulations to all of the students from Apollo High School in Glendale Union who won awards at the Arizona State Fair! Arianna Hogans, Ashley Flores, Olivia Borrego (x2), Valeria Beruman, Mireya Ray, Giselle Armendariz, Lily Hinsley, Ivan Limon Ortega, Leo Birruete all took home first place.

1000 Strong for Public Education

We’re excited to announce 1000 Strong for Public Education, a Save Our Schools Arizona Network campaign to demonstrate the overwhelming support for public education in communities across Arizona. 

We’re asking 1,000 people to make a meaningful financial investment in our work by the beginning of 2024. All fully tax deductible gifts go directly to our largest budget expense — our people, who live and work in the communities they organize. Every dollar helps!


Thank you for helping us work toward a future where a high-quality, fully-funded public education is available to all Arizona students.

Get Plugged In!


Have you signed the AZ Loves Public Schools Pledge yet? Be part of our growing community of public school supporters, sign the pledge and then share with your friends! Also check out our map of Arizona’s public school supporters and help us fill it in!

Don’t forget to join us on social media. Pick your favorite(s) and join us for fun, engaging content!! This is where we post important updates, key news articles, and informative graphics and videos you can’t get anywhere else.

Join Team SOSAZ!

Sign up for a Community Action Team: East Valley, West Valley & North Phoenix, Scottsdale & Paradise Valley, Central & South Phoenix, Northern Arizona, and Southern Arizona! Your local coordinators will help you with using Request to Speak and contacting your lawmakers.

Request an SOSAZ Education Roadshow presentation HERE

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